By Shaykh Aslam Shaykhupuri Shahid
He was truly jamil (beautiful); his countenance, his character, his manners. Though his life was a blend of beauty, his death was even more so. He abhorred being served on but spent all his life serving others. It wasn’t because he did not have caring people around him, he did; respectful students, loving friends, devoted companions with the same slant of mind….but he enjoyed serving others, not just elders but also people younger than him. This was not merely a formality either. He had divided his life in three different sections one of which was service. He spent a lot of time, energy, and other resources on this division of his life.
He considered it a blessing to wait on elderly scholars and ulema. He hosted them at his home, provided them with medical aid to the maximum measure, he used to feed them with his own hands, give them their medicine, massage them, take them on Umrah with him, facilitate their rites as much as he could, pushed their wheel chairs, helped them in wudhu. If anyone else insisted on having a share of the service he refused. He used to be drenched in sweat, he had to give up a large chunk of his night’s sleep but serving others was his comfort and joy. The elders gave him loads of du’as and the yougers blessed him; that is why every eye was brimming over at his departure and his comrades were sobbing their hearts out. The flowing tears would just not stop. The younger ones of course had a sense of deprivation but we also heard the elder ones saying, “We have been orphaned this day.” What kind of a man was he that the grief of his departure was felt so acutely by everyone?
I saw the Maulana when he was 20 and I saw him when he was 53. God knows whether it was my imagination or an illusion that I observed no change in the manner of his walk, talk, or any other demeanour with advancement of age. True, his hair had turned snowy but the level of his activity was the same. He was on the go all the time, he could never sit still. He used to walk very fast, drive very fast; he drove the vehicle of his life at an unrelenting pace too, never caring whether it was day or night, hot or cold, autumn or spring, journey or halt. He was effected neither by the praise of his friends nor was the criticism of foes able to stop him.
The way he had chalked out for himself with the direction of his elders was the one he walked and in a mere 53 years he did what others would not have been able to do in hundred years. He had had a glimpse of his destination, a destination that seemed so dazzling that it had put a swiftness in his step. He had seen this destination in the martyrdom of Dr. Habibullah Mukhtar, Mufti Abdus Sami’, Maulana Muhammad Yousuf Ludhyanwi, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamazai (rahimullah ‘anhum). He knew that sooner or later he would reach the same end, that robe of honour that adorned the shoulders of his companions and elders would one day be his too.
Joking, jesting, and pleasantries were his habit; or maybe he had adopted them to unwind from mental exertions. Whether the gathering consisted of seniors or juniors, his string of jokes were unending. Sometimes he would say, “Maulvi Sahib, hurry up! Everyone is going away and it will soon be our turn. It looks like there won’t be anyone left to write us a eulogy. Come on let’s do it ourselves then, before we go.”
The worthlessness of the salt of the earth and the regularly lifting hearses have thrown all people of perception into the same worry. We are all engulfed in a vast darkness; arrows are flying here and there and there is no saying when one of them will find its mark. The assailants have a list but the assaulted are unaware when their bodies will be freed of the weight of their necks. All announcements of unity, all cries protests, all steps of security are proving to be useless. The people who went before the Maulana had fixed timings of coming and going but this was not the case with him.
He had decided on staying in Lahore on Saturday and on Sunday he was to reach Karachi with Hazrat Maulana Arshad Madani, who had probably come to visit Pakistan on his invitation. But fate brought them earlier to Karachi. He usually got home by ten or eleven but that day he set out for home after ‘Asr because of the arrival of some near relatives. Who knew he was off not to his temporary home but his everlasting one. Just a few hours before his martyrdom I had asked him on the phone to let Hazrat Madani give some time to Jamia tur Rasheed. But he had said, “Because of the alarming situation it has been decided to keep him restricted to Binnory Town only.” He had wanted to save Hazrat Madani from the dangers but became a victim himself. Selfless people are like this; they think more of others than themselves.
They keep awake so their companions can sleep; they remain hungry so their friends can eat. The Hajj companions of Maulana tell that during the Pilgrimage his sacrifices were a thing to see. He ate after all others had had their fill and slept after all others were soundly slumbering. When it came to carrying luggage, the heaviest load would be on his shoulders. None of his companions can forget his du’a at Arafat. There would be a crowd of five or six hundred; a little way off, Jable Noor would be recalling the sobbing invocations of a divine man. In this aura everyone, from the common to the singular would request only Maulana Jamil for supplications. When he put up his hands in prayer, tears would start rolling down cheeks, sobs and sighs would rush from throats, you would imagine a bubbling sighing stew on the stove. There would not be a dry face in the entire group. Those who thought him to be a light hearted person saw another facet of his personality here; a person who cried and lamented and prayed for the honour and unison of the ummah.
The world is a blend of strange and secret things. Many are those who have donned the mask of humility and modesty but their hearts are stinking with arrogance; then there are those whom we think proud but who consider themselves less than the dust under the feet of righteous men. They laugh in company and cry (to Allah) when alone. Superficial observers often mistake identities. So many are thought to be useful but are in fact useless and so many are thought to be useless but are in fact useful. Maulana’s greatness wasn’t that he himself was doing an immense amount of work. His real greatness was that his encouragement, supervision, and guidance motivated others to work. His habit of taking others with him for good work was so entrenched that he did not go alone even on the journey of martyrdom; he took Maulana Tonsi with him. Like someone said, he was like an engine pulling even the rusted cabins with it; in the absence of an engine bright new cabins would be worthless too.
May Allah have mercy on this ummah because day by day it is being deprived of motivating leadership. Maulana was so mobile that sometimes even his close friends would not know his whereabouts. His mornings in Karachi and evenings in Lahore, Jumuah in Pakistan and Saturday in Britain. His tours were for education and preaching. There would hardly have been a more active scholar in the Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nubuwwat. The annual conference for the committee is held in Britain but he was always the central figure for its arrangements. He took part in the conference for an unbroken twenty years.
He laid the foundation for the “Iqra Educational Society”. At present there are 38 thousand students In 108 branches of Iqra Rauza tul Atfaal, and by this time hundreds of thousands of boys and girls have completed their Hifz e Quran from the institution. These statistics are for the original branches of Iqra, the thousands of others that cropped up in every town and neighbourhood have their own success story. English schools because of their uniforms, the clean campuses, the discipline, and the gentleness with which the teachers taught impressed parents. The Iqra schools came up to these standards playing a key role in bringing parents and their offspring nearer to Qur’anic teachings. This system became so popular that old madaris too were forced to revise their educational system.
Maulana was also the member and speaker of the central Majlise Shura of Aalmi Tahaffuz Khatme Nubuwwat, he was also a supporter of the mujahideen, and a sponsor of madaris. It is amazing how one man was able to do so much.
After his martyrdom it was being pondered how his services would be continued. One companion suggested that they would have to appoint a different person for each area that he was serving so his works could be carried on. At this another companion pointed out that they would be able to find the people to hold the fort but where would they find his sincerity and individuality? Not one of the audience had an answer to that. Grief struck their hearts and tears wet their eyes. The only thing agreed on was that there was nothing to do but endure the sorrow with patience; what else can one do on “Shahadat e Jamil” but “Sabre Jamil?”